International arrivals in Sydney will be limited to 350 people a day under tighter COVID-19 restrictions to ensure returned travellers don’t overwhelm the New South Wales health and hotel quarantine system.
Announcing the decision on July 19, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the step was necessary to make sure the state stays in a strong position to prevent the spread of COVID-19 disease.
“Our number one priority is the health and safety of the people of NSW, and this new cap will help us protect our state from COVID-19,” Berejiklian said in a statement.
“NSW is the gateway to Australia and it is important that passengers returning home do not overrun the capacity of NSW Health and hotel quarantine.”
The new airport cap will apply from 12.01 a.m. on July 20 under an agreement with the federal government.
It further reduces the current cap of 450 people introduced on July 5.
Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres said Australians have been given plenty of time to return from overseas.
“It is incredibly important the volume of returning travellers does not undo the great work of the people of NSW,” Ayres said in a statement on July 20.
“The people, businesses and industries of NSW can only operate in this ‘new normal’ if we effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19, and further limiting the cap on returning travellers will help ensure this.”
Meanwhile, the retail, fast-food and warehouse workers union is urging people to not visit the shops after being tested for coronavirus.
“If you are getting tested it is out of a concern you might have COVID,” the SDA’s NSW/ACT secretary Bernie Smith said in a statement on July 20.
“Don’t go to the shops after you are tested. Wait for your test results. Don’t go until you know. Don’t put the health of the workers in the store and other shoppers at risk.
“Particularly in the wake of these new COVID-19 clusters in some parts of Sydney, the community needs to be extra vigilant and ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep each other safe.”
The union says it has written to Health Minister Brad Hazzard asking for additional signage around testing areas and shopping centre precincts to remind people to go straight home after being tested.
In the 24 hours to 8 p.m. on July 17 NSW recorded 15 new COVID-19 cases.
Of these, five are connected to patrons who attended Casula’s Crossroads Hotel in southwest Sydney.
That cluster now numbers 45 people, 30 of which were not hotel patrons.
One case, reported on Friday afternoon, was linked to a developing cluster at the Thai Rock restaurant in Wetherill Park.
Four cases are returned travellers in hotel quarantine, while another five remain under investigation by contact tracers.
Two of those cases include a pair from the same household who visited a bistro at Batemans Bay on July 13 and a fast-food restaurant in the Shellharbour area on July 15.
One additional case was also recorded after 8 p.m. It is linked to Planet Fitness at Casula, the sixth infected individual to attend the gym on July 8.
By Heather McNab